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The Dawood Ibrahim Connection
As my colleague on the CT Blog, Vic Comras noted, the name of Dawood Ibrahim is now associated with the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Ibrahim reportedly provided the initial boat for the attackers, and has strong ties to al Qaeda.

What is interesting about Ibrahim, who has been designated a terrorist by OFAC and many other governments, is that he is a pioneer in the criminal-terrorist nexus. For many years he has provided the criminal links al Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistani terrorist groups have needed to move money, personnel and equipment. Despite how well known his activities are, he has never been apprehended.

Here is something I wrote about him more than two years ago, which helps shed some light on a person identified as a terrorist and criminal mastermind.

Ibrahim, with his immense wealth, underworld connections, and ties to Bollywood, was one of the first big fish to cross over to work with radical Islamists, starting more than a decade ago:

A criminal kingpin, ally of al Qaeda, large-scale drug runner and financer of some of Bollywood's biggest movies, Ibrahim loves to hang out with movie stars and live the good life. Not exactly a natural ally of radical Islamist groups, but he appears to provide the muscle and know-how to attacks, rather than being the intellectual author of the violence he has pariticpated in. His ideology seems more firmly wedded to his financial well-being than to his religious beliefs.

Ibrahim has a enormous mansion in Karachi, Pakistan, but spends a great deal of time in Dubai, UAE. He has a long history of violence. His flamboyant life style made it difficult to believe that he was not protected by the Pakistani intelligence services for whom he worked, or officials in the UAE.
My friend David Kaplan did one of the best looks at him in U.S. News.

When the Treasury Department designated him in October 2003, hardly anyone paid attention. He had come across my radar screen, however, because of his reported role in the gold trade and in helping al Qaeda and the Taliban ship their money and gold reserves out of Afghanistan as the U.S. invaded in 2001. As my book describes, the Taliban and bin Laden kept much of their financial holdings in gold, for cultural and other reasons.

Ibrahim has kept a lower profile since his designation but prior to that used to consort fairly openly with starlets and actors in the epic Indian movies he bankrolled, reportedly making a large fortune in the process.

The Treasury Deparment's description of Ibrahim says in part that his criminal syndicate "is involved in large-scale shipments of narcotics in the U.K. and Western Europe.

"The syndicate's smuggling routes from South Asia, the Middle East and Africa are shared with Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.

"Successful routes established over recent years by IBRAHIM'S syndicate have been subsequently utilized by bin Laden. A financial arrangement was reportedly brokered to facilitate the latter's usage of these routes.

"In the late 1990's, IBRAHIM traveled in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban.

"IBRAHIM'S syndicate has consistently aimed to destabilize the Indian government through inciting riots, acts of terrorism, and civil disobedience. He is currently wanted by India for the March 12, 1993 Bombay Exchange bombings, which killed hundreds of Indians and injured over a thousand more.

"Information, from as recent as Fall 2002, indicates that IBRAHIM has financially supported Islamic militant groups working against India, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)."

Not much has changed since then.
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